Here is something about me which is no secret: I love trees. It is quite well known by now, how I cribbed to the L & M about there being no trees outside my bedroom window in the house we stayed last, only the drab gray wall of the house next door. As if to make up for it, the next house we moved into, the one we are living in now, has trees all around. The first thing I did when I moved in was book my place by the window which had the best view of trees. That’s where I spend most of my time when I am not doing the busy-homemaker act.
By the amount of dry leaves you find strewn around the house you will be forgiven for thinking there are plenty of trees in my yard. Nope. Except for a still young guava tree coyly flowering and getting ready to bear fruits, plus a straggly neem tree, the rest of them are all in my neighbors’ yards. Perhaps they, the trees have heard I love them dearly, and so are extending their limbs towards me in affection. At least I love to think so.
It is funny about the ‘straggly’ neem tree, and a whole lot sad too. The tamarind tree standing tall in one of the neighbor’s compound has in true bully style, appropriated all available sunlight by spreading its branches far and wide denying others their fair share. The jackfruit tree standing close to it, determined to get some sunshine for itself has been growing sideways that it now has a branch growing half way across the neighboring plot and mine. Together they have eclipsed the poor young neem tree still in its growing stages and in dire need of a lot of sunlight. Crowded out by the two bullies, it now stands bent over, old before its time.
That’s not the case with the karaka tree growing in front of my next-door neighbor’s house. She hates it and often talks of cutting it down. I am horrified. I envy her the shade beneath the lush green canopy, the charm it gives her house when viewed from outside. I imagine pulling a chair beneath its shade and reading a good book. Or simply lolling, waiting for the birds to land (so long as they don’t poop on me!), watching them flit here and there. Ahh, good life! But she says it is a bother sweeping up the dry leaves every day, and then the fruits that keeps falling mess up the place too. Sigh, I only hope she does not get it cut as long as I am here.
Then there are the banana trees in yet another neighbor’s yard. The tiny sunbirds love to frolic in the water that collects in the folds of its leaves. The rufous treepies and greater coucals love to play hide and seek among its leaves, looking for insects to eat. When the fruit is ready, Mr. Squirrel comes by, tail flicking this way and that, screeching at the top of its tiny lungs. Move, move you winged creatures, it is now my turn!
Right outside my bedroom window is a tree (again, not in my compound) whose name I know not. It has no flowers, nor have I seen any fruits. But birds and some butterflies love it. One day I heard the sound of an axe meeting fresh wood and rushed to find a cruel man sitting on top of this tree and trying his best to behead it. Well, that’s the tree-lover in me being dramatic. It was only the man hired by the neighbor to chop its head off. I couldn’t bear to look at it’s bald head for days afterwards.
That had been almost a year and a half back. Though it has not returned to its past glory, it has now got new branches and plenty of leaves on them. What’s more important is that the birds are back gracing the tree with their presence. Next to it is another smaller tree (name unknown to me), also a big hit with the birds for the cover it gives them, to hide from a certain lady who relentlessly follows their every move with her lens. Of course I am kidding. I (for I am that lady I was referring to) need to work, eat, sleep, play with the dog, blog, facebook, whatsapp…. how much time does that leave me to do some ‘relentless pursuit’?!
In the distance I can see the beautiful green of the golden shower tree. Only in April does it burst into pretty golden yellow flowers living up to its name. Right now it is all leaves. And in the far distance against the blue sky I can see the copper pod tree with its beautiful yellow blooms and in front of it, the gulmohur, all leaves and no blooms.
This of course doesn’t cover it all. There are the papaya trees, the overgrown camellia bush which almost looks like a tree, the ornamental tree at the gate, the coconut trees dotting the skyline, mango trees young and old. I love them all. Yes, I love trees.
©Shail Mohan 2015